Disclaimer: I own none of this. J. K. Rowling and assorted companies including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Warner Brothers own everything. They also make all the money. I am just having fun and in no way seek financial profit from their property.
Note: Thanks to the three people who gave me valuable comments on drafts of this: Julia, Parama, and Antonia East!
Boys' Night Out
He restlessly paced the small room in which he was confined, his claws clicking on the bare wood floor. At every turn, he paused to growl at the far corners of the room. He wanted out of this prison. He wanted to run in the crisp and cool night air. He wanted to howl at the moon that he knew was hanging full in the sky. He wanted to hunt and taste blood. Instead, he was locked in this building, a fire providing some warmth and light but no comfort. With a snarl, he launched himself at the boards covering the nearest window. He attacked the wood, claws digging long furrows against the grain and fangs sending splinters flying. It did no good. No matter how much wood he destroyed, there was always more. He needed to get out, but there was no escape.
As his despair mounted, so did the desire to make someone else feel his pain. The urge to attack, to kill, to feed, was too strong to be denied. He tore at already-broken chairs and tables, trying to quench his need to destroy. He found nothing to quiet the voice within him crying for blood. Turning to the only available source for the one thing he craved most, he bit at his own forearm. Fangs dug through thick fur before finding and penetrating flesh. He pulled back, whimpering in pain but relishing the sweet taste. He sniffed at his wound and a familiar coppery scent flooded over him. But there was also another smell in the air. Something new had entered his domain. He whirled, hackles rising, searching for the source of the new odor.
His sharp eyes penetrated the gloom of the shack, barely making out a shape approaching from a dark corridor. A low menacing rumble emerged from the back of his throat as the shape came closer, resolving into a large black dog. He crouched, ready to pounce, and the dog sat down to watch him. He growled again, warning the stranger away from his territory. The dog just continued to watch, alert yet unafraid. He sniffed at the air. The dog's scent was stronger know and seemed familiar, almost like a long-lost pack mate. But he was a lone wolf. Even if he had a pack, no dog would be a part of it.
He again growled at the dog. It turned and began to walk back up the corridor. He silently watched its retreating back. This dog was not a threat to him. It had not attacked. And now it was leaving. He whined softly at the thought of again being alone in his prison. The dog twisted its head to look at him. It gave one clear, sharp bark, the first sound it had made since arriving, before turning back and continuing its walk. He rose and whined again. The dog stopped in front of a hole, turned to face him, and sat. He took a few steps toward it and the dog rose to crawl into the hole. Cautiously he followed to the edge of the hole. It led to an earthen passage. He knew this passage. It led to nowhere, but the dog seemed to have some purpose in bringing him here. He hesitated before following the dog through the hole and down the tunnel.
The twists and bends of the passage quickly obscured the flickering light of the dying fire in the shack. The dark did not hamper his ability to follow the dog. That familiar yet alien scent was as strong a guide as the sight of the black tail wagging before him would have been. They padded through the dirt in dark and silence until he became aware of a soft breeze and a dim light ahead. In unvoiced agreement, he and the dog sped up, running to the narrow opening. The dog scrambled through and he came right behind, bursting into the night air with an excited yelp.
He was at the base of a large, still tree. The dog was trotting over to stand next to a stag. He stayed close to the tree, crouching low to the ground. He sniffed at the air. He recognized the scent of the dog, an animal that, for now, was neither a danger nor likely prey. He found the deer's scent. Like that of the dog, this odor seemed somehow familiar. He rocked back on his haunches to better watch these strange animals. The moonlight glistened off the stag's antlers except for one constantly moving dark patch. He realized a plump gray rat was running nervously about the stag's head. The deer could have easily sent its passenger flying with one shake, yet it was unfazed by the rodent skittering from the tip of one antler, down and across its forehead, and up the other branch of its rack. He again sniffed at the air and finally found the rat's scent. He dismissed it. It posed no threat to him and would be a most unsatisfying hunt. Staying low to the ground, he took a few cautious steps towards the deer, the best prey of the three. It watched him, its eyes surrounded by large black circles that were clearly visible against the light brown fur. The rat stopped its frantic scurrying and turned to look at him. All three of the other animals were now watching him. The dog crouched, its pose almost mirroring his own. He could not fight the deer and the dog together. He whirled and ran from them in search of easier prey. He ran towards a castle on the edge of a cliff in the distance.
With a thunder of hooves, the stag was quickly beside him, before him. He tried to dodge around it, but it swung its head, antlers aimed at him, and blocked his path. The prongs dug into his flesh and picked him off the ground. He howled from pain as he was thrown back. He quickly regained his footing and launched himself at the stag. As he flew threw the air, a large weight collided with him, sending him sprawling on his side. He looked up to see the dog, now with a slightly-shaken rat clinging desperately to its back, standing over him. He attempted to again roll to his feet and fell back with a whimper. His shoulder was bruised and did not want to support his weight. The dog moved its head towards his wound. He bared his fangs, ready to bite if it came any nearer. It backed away, the stag coming to stand beside it. Slowly, he rose. He waited for their attack but it did not come. He was wounded and an easy target, but still they held back. He risked a glance back at the tree that was guarding the tunnel through which he had escaped. It was now swaying, but not in time to any breeze he felt. Beyond it was a dark forest. Perhaps he could lose them in there. He ran for the freedom the trees offered, the others chasing after him.
He ran through the forest as fast as he could with his bruise. Branches clawed at him, catching in his fur. He ran on, leaving tufts behind him. No matter how fast he ran, he could not lose his pursuers. They were gaining on him. The dog and stag came up on either side of him. He could see them through the trees and they were right beside him when the path widened. They did not try to stop him this time. They were running with him, not chasing him. He bolted into a clearing and came to a stop. The stag and dog halted a few steps further into the clearing. Still, they did not attack. He crept closer to them, smelling them. They seemed even more familiar know. Their scents were working to slow his racing heart. These animals could not be his pack and yet the longer he was with them the more he felt at home. He looked up at the moon directly above him. He howled in frustration. The dog howled with him. He looked at it as the rat scurried from its back and began running around in the leaves. That had been a sound of sympathy, not personal torment. These animals obviously did not mean to harm him. Perhaps he should not harm them.
He flopped down in the leaves. The rat came near him. It was about to climb on him the way it had the dog and stag but hesitated. He looked at it before howling again. It backed up at the sound and instead crawled on the dog. The dog shook it off and the two began to play. The rat buried itself in the leaves, trying to stay away from the dog. When the dog found the rat, it would paw the smaller creature until the rat scurried over the dog, down its back and began the game again. He did not understand what they were doing and looked around for the stag. It was standing at the edge of the clearing, looking in the other direction. He trotted over to it and was greeted by a wondrous sight. Standing in a thicket of trees was a unicorn. It was young and its coat not quite a pure white. He stood beside the stag and together they watched the unicorn. His thirst for blood quieted within him. This creature was too beautiful to kill.
His peace was shattered by a loud noise behind him. The unicorn immediately fled deep into the woods. The dog, in its hunt through the leaves for the rat, had uncovered a jarvey. The dog snuffled at the strange critter that was yelling at him. The jarvey grew tired of the dog's hot breath and bit its nose before disappearing down a small hole. The dog yelped. He howled, mourning the lose of the peace he had felt in the unicorn's presence. The stag gently nuzzled his side, avoiding the large bruise. He took comfort from this and did not know why. The rat and dog joined the other two. He found solace in their presence, almost as much as from the unicorn. He looked at the three animals gathered around him. He was now certain they would not hurt him but he could not consider them either prey or pack mates. He did not know what they were or how to treat them. As his frustration mounted, so did his restlessness. He turned and again ran. Again they followed.
This time they all emerged from the woods near a large lake. He could see the strange swaying tree and the castle in the distance. At the moment, none of that mattered. He was tired and thirsty after his long run and only had eyes for the lake. All four animals began to drink deeply of the cool dark water. When his thirst was quenched he sat back and watched them. They curled together in the grass near the water's edge. They did not seem to notice their differences. He flopped down a short distance from them. He was too uncertain of them to fully join this strange new pack but he did not want to leave them.
He did not know how long they lay there, relaxing in the crisp night air. He just knew the silence was finally broken after a seeming eternity by one sharp bark. He lifted his head from his paws and looked at the dog. It was standing off from the group. It looked at the stag and rat and then at the moon, now hanging low in the sky. The other two animals rose. He did as well, unsure why they all suddenly smelled anxious. The dog began walking toward the swaying tree. The stag came up behind him and pushed at him. He dug his claws into the earth and froze. They wanted him to return to his prison. He growled. He should never have trusted these animals.
The dog came back to him. It whimpered at him and pleaded with its eyes. The rat was frantically scurrying around the others, uncertain how to help but clearly wanting to be involved. He snarled at them all. They backed away. The stag looked at the moon. It hung its head for a moment and then stepped towards him. It prodded at him with its prongs. His answering growl was matched by the dog's. The deer pushed on his bruised shoulder. He whimpered before biting at it. The stag's antlers scratched across his muzzle and forced him back. He was too tired to run and too wounded to fight. He slowly backed away from them as they steadily forced him back towards his prison. The rat ran ahead of them. A tree branch swung at the rodent but it was too small and quick. It darted forward and pressed a small knot at the base of the tree. Everything about the tree became still, not even a leaf fluttered in the breeze. The dog pushed him into the passage and then followed him. The stag and the rat remained outside. He snarled at the dog. Now he faced just one enemy and he was ready to fight it to regain his freedom. The passage closed and everything became dark. He froze. The dog pushed at him and he stopped resisting. He could not get out now, even if he killed the dog. He allowed himself to be guided to his room. The inside of the shack was dark. Only a few embers still glowed in the fireplace. He ignored the dog. He wanted to attack it for forcing him back here, but it had also been the one to grant him his brief freedom. Tired and confused by the night's events, he curled up on the floor underneath a boarded window and fell asleep.
He woke and stretched his limbs. They were stiff and bruised but had far fewer bites and scratches than normal. He heard a slight commotion from across the room and turned towards it. There he found the people responsible for his relatively unwounded status. Two black-haired youths were playing a game. The taller of the two held a broken table leg and was swinging it at large bits of wood whirling around his head. The other was using his wand to direct the splinters in their attack. His eyes twinkled behind his glasses as a long flat piece penetrated the defense and whacked his friend on the head. The game came to an abrupt end as the table leg-bat came sailing at the bespectacled youth. The slivers of wood ceased the attack as their puppet-master ducked and lost his concentration. They rained down, some falling on the brown-haired boy lounging by the now roaring fire and laughing at the game. His laughter turned to indignant spluttering as he tousled his hair to dislodge the wood that landed there.
The newly-awakened boy had unspilled tears shining in his eyes as he watched his friends. "You did it," he whispered, amazement and joy choking his voice. His three friends turned to him, their faces split by large grins.
"Of course we did," James replied, pushing his glasses up his nose.
"When have we ever failed once we decided to do something?" Sirius asked.
"Well, never," he admitted, "but I've never known it to take you five years."
"It didn't take five years!" protested Sirius. "It's only been three since we figured out you were a werewolf and came up with this idea."
"Besides, it took some of us longer than others." James glared at the brown-haired boy by the fire.
"It only took me a couple of weeks longer than you guys!" Peter protested.
He was surprised and hurt they had hid their status as Animagi from him. "How long ago did you work it out?"
Sirius' answer reassured him. "Only a couple of weeks. It was since the last full moon. We'll tell you the whole story later. The important thing is we did it. Once we discovered our animals, it was easy to plan how to surprise you and get you out of this dump. Peter kept the Whomping Willow under control and I came for you. We guessed a dog and a wolf would be natural allies. Ol' Jamesy there had to wait outside. He's got himself a nice set of antlers that just won't fit in that tunnel."
He smiled at James. "Yes, I noticed when he dug those prongs of his into my side and threw me half-way across the grounds," he teased.
James rubbed at the back of his neck and refused to look at the others. "Sorry about that."
"James." He got no reaction. "James," he repeated more forcefully. His friend finally looked at him. "I can't control the wolf. The only way this will work is if you guys control him. You can't let me out of here unless you are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the wolf from hurting anyone. And if it means I can roam the forest with you three, you can transfigure right now and I'll sharpen those prongs of yours myself. Besides, I think Sirius caused more damage when he intercepted me in midair."
Sirius shrugged unapologetically. James glanced between them and then gave one brief nod. "Yeah, well, I'd rather use the antlers to throw Snivellus," he said with a sneer.
"Now there is a benefit to all this I hadn't considered." Sirius was thoughtful, which usually meant trouble. "How can we best get Snivellus?"
"Maybe I can sneak into the Slytherian common room and spy on him," Peter offered.
"Maybe," Sirius agreed. "I'll have to think about it. But right now our primary mission seems to have been achieved. Remus isn't nearly as mopey this morning as he usually is right after the full moon."
"I'm not mopey!" he protested. "I'm just tired and sore."
"Mopey," James countered. "And moody. We don't need a lunar calendar to know when it is your time of the moon."
Peter began to chant in a singsong voice. "Mopey, moody, moony! Mopey, moody, moony!" The plump boy danced around the room.
"Shut up, you three!" he shouted as the other two joined Peter. "Anyway, hadn't you better leave before they come to fetch me?"
Peter skidded to a halt. "He's got a point."
"All right, Moony. We'll see you in class." James headed down the short hallway toward the tunnel.
Sirius didn't move. "If he's Moony and stag-boy is Prongs, who am I?" he asked of no one in particular.
"And me?" Peter piped up as he followed James into the hole.
"Come on or you'll be Expelled!" James hollered back. "We'll think of something for you both."
"How about Blackie?"
"Really Peter, why would I just use my last name?"
"Oh, yeah. I wasn't thinking about that. Just that you are a big, black dog."
He was now left alone in the shack. He lay back, listening to his friends' receding voices as Peter and James took turns suggesting names for Sirius and Sirius rejected them all.
"That's the noise you made going after the jarvey."
"I know! Dogbreath!"
"I'll get you for that, Potter! Peter, move so I can hex him. Running scared, James?"
James' laughs and Sirius' threats were lost in the sound of running feet. Eventually, those too faded. He lay in the quiet of his shack and smiled at the ceiling. While the four of them had already caused more than their fair share of trouble while at Hogwarts, he knew the real fun had only just begun.